WHERE IT IS AT
By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB
It is always interesting to me how people describe “the Church.” In fact, it is a worthy experiment I invite you to consider in this moment when we not simply celebrate Pentecost, but the birthday of the Church. Just ask people to describe what comes to mind.
My experience is that while some describe a parish community; others describe the Universal Church. Some see it comforting; others as oppressing. Some find church essential; others believe it has no relevance in the world today.
In his encyclical Evangeli Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote, “An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it.”
Perhaps it is for this reason that Pope Francis has put so much emphasis on parishes, because this is the “front line”; the place where the Church connects to the lives of the Faithful.
Last year at Pentecost, this parish community took some time to really think about how we connect. We asked parishioners to respond to a series of very specific questions, from which we wrote our “Community Manifesto.” It is online, but I thought I would take a moment to share it with you in this way. As you read it, please do so with gratitude, for even if you are just dropping by, you help bring this community to life and give it new purpose.
At St. Basil’s, we are a community of seekers.
We are one home, one family,
one body with many moving parts.
We are children of God, and Disciples of Christ; sensitive to the movements of the Spirit.
Together we can co-create, grow,
and build even further.
St Basil’s is a place to encounter God.
Here you will find a place of peace and belonging.
A place to bear witness to Truth, to be stretched, and supported.
Here you will bear witness to your own worthiness, if only you seek and accept it.
As a community, we have mastered the art of discussion, sharing, and tending to the “lost sheep.”
As parishioners, we have worked hard to be good welcomers, journeyers, listeners, and givers.
As an urban parish, we need to work harder at our sensitivity toward others,
spending time together,
and having the facilities reflect our mission.
As artists, we need not be ashamed of creating.
As alchemists, we need not be afraid of searching.
As agents of change,
we need not apologize for transforming.
St Basil’s is a place where support, participation, honesty, integrity, and change are upheld.
We have created a space where Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge thrive,
and where the Catholic Church
and “current culture” meet.
Here is a place where you are recognized.
the most vulnerable,
the face of creation,
the smiling stranger,
the newly baptized,
the one sitting silently in the pews…
You are seen.
In you, we see the face of God.
As we rise to the challenge of using our
gifts and talents,
stretching our comfort zone,
and offering our “yes” to discipleship…
We invite you to help us go from:
Satisfaction to Action,
Apathy to Energy,
Shame to Forgiveness,
Fear to Confidence,
Consumers to Citizens.
Won’t you join us?